Posted by Salvatore J. Zambri, founding member and partner
As investigations continue into determining the cause(s) for Amtrak’s tragic derailment on Tuesday night, the Washington Post reports that NTSB investigations have discovered that less than one minute prior to the crash, the train actually sped up from 70 mph to over 100 mph before derailing. According to the forward-looking camera recovered from the train, the speed jumped from 70 mph to 80 mph twelve seconds later, then to 90 mph within the next twelve seconds and 100 mph sixteen seconds later. The images below, copied from the Washington Post, indicate how dramatic such a speed increase is compared to other train speeds along that same stretch of track. No reasons have been discovered for the acceleration yet. Although investigations are still in the early stages, excessive speed is an obvious factor in causing this tragic incident.
Amtrak’s President, in making his first public appearance since the accident, echoed others in saying that “positive train control” would have automatically slowed the train and prevented the accident. Amtrak has installed the positive train control system along other sections of the Northeast Corridor, but problems with funding and radio frequencies has delayed testing and implementation throughout the track network.
Here is relevant law that is worth sharing.
According to 49 U.S. Code Section 28103 – Limitations on rail passenger transportation liability:
“(1) Notwithstanding any other statutory or common law or public policy, or the nature of the conduct giving rise to damages or liability, in a claim for personal injury to a passenger, death of a passenger, or damage to property of a passenger arising from or in connection with the provision of rail passenger transportation, or from or in connection with any rail passenger transportation operations over or rail passenger transportation use of right-of-way or facilities owned, leased, or maintained by any high-speed railroad authority or operator, any commuter authority or operator, any rail carrier, or any State, punitive damages, to the extent permitted by applicable State law, may be awarded in connection with any such claim only if the plaintiff establishes by clear and convincing evidence that the harm that is the subject of the action was the result of conduct carried out by the defendant with a conscious, flagrant indifference to the rights or safety of others. If, in any case wherein death was caused, the law of the place where the act or omission complained of occurred provides, or has been construed to provide, for damages only punitive in nature, this paragraph shall not apply.
(2) The aggregate allowable awards to all rail passengers, against all defendants, for all claims, including claims for punitive damages, arising from a single accident or incident, shall not exceed $200,000,000.”
If you have any questions about this post or want to discuss a potential claim against Amtrak, you may contact Mr. Zambri by phone at 202-822-1899 or click here to email him directly. Mr. Zambri's firm served as lead counsel in successfully representing injured parties and family members during litigation stemming from the 2009 Fort Totten Metro (WMATA) accident on the Red Line. Mr. Zambri & his firm also represent the family of the woman tragically killed as well as many other victims from the 2015 Metro (WMATA) smoke incident at L'Enfant Plaza.
About the author:
Mr. Zambri is a board-certified civil trial attorney by the National Board of Trial Advocates and a Past-President of the Trial Lawyers Association of Metropolitan Washington, D.C. The association recently named him "Trial Lawyer of the Year". Super Lawyers (2015) recently named him among the "Top Ten" lawyers in the Metro Area (out of more than 80,000 attorneys). He has been rated by Washingtonian magazine as a "Big Gun" and among the "top 100″ lawyers in the entire metropolitan area. The magazine also describes him as "one of Washington's best-most honest and effective lawyers" who specializes in personal injury matters, including automobile accident claims, premises liability, product liability, medical malpractice, and work-accident claims. He has successfully litigated multiple cases against truck and bus companies, the Washington Metropolitan Area transit Authority, and other automobile owners. His law firm, in fact, has obtained the largest settlement ever in a personal injury case involving WMATA. Mr. Zambri has also been acknowledged as one of "The Best Lawyers in America" by Best Lawyers (2014 edition) and has been repeatedly named a "Super Lawyer" by Super Lawyer magazine (2014) - national publications that honor the top lawyers in America.
If you have any questions about your legal rights, please email Mr. Zambri.